Prof Tariq Muneer and Sheikh Abid Ihsan

Imam Qurtubi was one of the greatest Imams of Koranic exegesis.  Educated in hadith he wrote works in the sciences of hadith and tenets of faith, though his enduring contribution is his twenty volume al-Jami li Ahkam al-Qur’an.  Scholars have used it extensively ever since it was written. He died in 671AH/1273CE.So far only the first volume of Qurtubi’s commentary has been translated in English, in over 780 pages, and is easily available on the web. In this short article we explore among further observation, verse translation of the last two verses of Sura Al Baqara. The present emphasis in bold letters, on selected words, made by the present authors as is the discussion contained in the last two paragraphs.

Verse 285

The Messenger believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and so do the believers. Each one believes in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers. We do not differentiate between any of His Messengers. They say, ‘We hear and we obey. Forgive us, our Lord! You are our journey’s end.’

Verse 286

Allah does not impose on any self any more than it can bear. For it is what it has earned; against it, what it has merited. Our Lord, do not take us to task if we forget or make a mistake! Our Lord, do not place on us a load like the one You placed on those before us! Our Lord, do not place on us a load we have not the strength to bear! And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy on us. You are our Master, so help us against the people of the unbelievers.

It is related from Al-Hasan, Mujahid and Dhahhak that this ayat is about the Night Journey (al-Miraj). The same tafsir is transmitted from Ibn ‘Abbas.

Present observations

The first point of note is that Allah and His attributes are mentioned seven times within these two verses.

Presently, we explore the most potent logic that is embedded in these two verses by paying particular attention to the highlighted words. The flow of belief and authority within verse 285 is so logical and algorithm-like, i.e. one has to first and foremost believe in Allah which will lead you to the belief in His creation (angels) who bring forth the Books to the messengers. The chain can only be construed in this manner.

Verse 286

here we find the prayer sought is gradual convergence towards the highest Reward that a slave may receive, i.e. Mercy. It is a journey for the slave from the outermost periphery of Pardon (to give up or excuse), to the next stage of Forgiveness (Forego: Pass over, overlook or forsake) to the innermost sanctuary of Mercy (Reward, forbearance and compassion. A gift of Al-Mighty. Act of compassion towards creatures). The three stages are like concentric circles.

Professor Tariq Muneeris a senior academic and researcher who teaches in Scotland while Sheikh Abid Ihsan is hafiz of the Quran and Tajweed scholar, a graduate of Dars-e-Nizami and Islamic Studies who served as Minister of Religion and Imam at Iqra and Central Mosques, Edinburgh.